Explosive atmospheres: a chosen career path
Because the Ex sector is such a highly-specialized area, choosing that career path must definitely come at a later stage in life, while studying or joining a company that is active in that field. And often, those who have been exposed to it at some point in their career remain faithful to it until retirement and beyond.
The challenges of designing, manufacturing or even testing Ex-proof equipment are numerous. All electrical and non-electrical equipment installed in hazardous environments must meet very strict criteria to pass examination. This includes not only machinery, but also lighting fixtures, surveillance cameras, cell phones, computers, and so forth. The variety of equipment used in Ex areas is huge, even more so given the vast number of industry sectors involved. Oil, gas and mining are obvious, but sugar refineries, food processing plants, grain handling and storage, painting, to name but a few, also have to deal with hazardous environments.
A lifetime engagement
Gerhard Schwarz of Germany is a perfect illustration of this. After receiving a masters degree in engineering (Dipl-Ing, Electrotechnik) in Mannheim, he worked in sales, product management and design for products used in hazardous areas for close to 50 years.
Until the end of 2011, Schwarz was responsible for R&D explosion-protected light and switchgear at Cooper Crouse Hinds GmbH, where he was also in charge of the worldwide certification of hazardous area products. In 2012, he worked as senior technical consultant for Cooper Crouse Hinds, dealing with all general questions related to explosion protection, R&D, and certification. Since spring 2013, he has owned a consulting company in the explosion protection field.
Dedicated to standardization at the international level…
Complementing his professional career, he has also been active, at national, regional and international levels, in standardization and conformity assessment for explosive atmospheres.
Schwarz was a member of IEC Technical Committee (TC) 31: Equipment for explosive atmospheres, and was involved in numerous IEC working groups (WGs) dealing with electrical products used in hazardous areas, such as flameproof, increased safety and intrinsic safety. For a number of years he was Convenor of WG 40: Luminaires, and a member of several other WGs and maintenance teams (MT) that dealt with individual parts of IEC 60079, the series of International Standards on explosive atmospheres.
In 2005, Schwarz received the IEC 1906 Award in recognition of his significant and exceptional contribution to IEC TC 31.
…as well as in Europe and in Germany
In Germany, he was Chair of the German committee on electrical equipment for use in hazardous areas at DKE, the German Commission for Electrical, Electronic and Information Technologies of DIN and VDE, and Chair of the WG on explosion-protected apparatus at ZVEI, the German Electrical and Electronic Manufacturers' Association.
He was also involved in IECEx, the IEC System for Certification to Standards Relating to Equipment for Use in Explosive Atmospheres. He was a member of the special Working Group “WGEx” established some 25 years ago to consider the nucleus of a scheme dedicated to Ex Equipment, the very origins of IECEx. He has maintained his involvement in the development and running of IECEx ever since, as an expert in the German delegation.
His expertise and experience in the Ex field made him a sought-after speaker. As such, he participated in IECEx international conferences, for example, in 2012 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, and in 2015 in Gdańsk, Poland.
IECEx is the only truly international Conformity Assessment (CA) System to provide testing and certification for all items of electrical and non-electrical Ex equipment and installations as well as certifying the skills and competence of individuals working in hazardous areas.
The System addresses the inspection (location and other), installation, maintenance and repair of equipment and systems and assesses the competence of personnel working in this highly-specialized area.
IECEx has been endorsed by the United Nations (UN) through the UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) as the certification system for the assessment of conformity in Ex areas.
IECEx operates the following Schemes:
- IECEx Certified Equipment Scheme
- IECEx Certified Service Facilities Scheme
- IECEx Scheme for Certification of Personnel Competence (for Explosive Atmospheres)
The System also has the IECEx Conformity Mark Licensing System which provides on-the-spot evidence that products bearing the Conformity Mark are covered by an IECEx Certificate of Conformity.
More information: www.iecex.com